November 18, 1979
But the first El Paso streetcar ride since 1974 came to an abrupt halt only moments later.
Planners of the inaugural event to put the cars back into operation hadn’t planned well enough. They needed a bigger tractor to pull the two cars filled with officials from Pan Am Savings and the city.
“What’s wrong, didn’t you pay your electric bill?” one onlooker yelled.
Twenty minutes later, with a bigger tractor in place, the champagne-happy group bumped along the eight blocks of track between the streetcar storage barn and the Toltec Building, 717 San Antonio.
At the 70-year-old building, Pan Am officials presented Mayor Tom Westfall with a $4,000 check for the local share of a feasibility study to put the cars back on El Paso streets.
Nestor Valencia, city grants director, said the $4,000, along with about $20,000 in federal funds, will be used to hire a consultant to complete the study within the next four months.
Robert North, Pan Am vice president, also gave a $1,000 check to Louise Cantwell, historic preservation coordinator for the city.
He explained the money will help begin Four Centuries ’81, El Paso’s 400th birthday celebration, and will start an El Paso Historic Trust revolving fund for the purchase and renovation of older properties.
Pan Am has announced its purchase and plans for renovation of the Toltec Building, which will house the savings and loan offices by midsummer.